One of the hands-on activities conducted at this year’s Innovation In Action 2011 Symposium was a project led by Anders Bjers (Associate to Googol) entitled – Edge of Innovation.
The 177 participants present at the symposium were asked to write their answers to two questions on post-it notes.
The first question was: What is the current most important topic on innovation? And the second question was: What is the next most important topic about innovation? The various participant’s answers where then collected to create a digital word cloud.
The purpose of this activity was to conduct a quick social experiment on a unique group of individuals – leading innovation industry professionals. The insights and evaluations gleaned from this short test portrays which direction innovation is heading in Sweden. This would not only help identify areas for resources investment, but would also help us pinpoint specific research focus.
Two answers came up repeatedly on the word cloud. Innovation and Sustainability.
It has always been a view that the next step of progress for developed countries and modern societies is innovation. When basic infrastructures that are required for a country to survive have been refined and re-crafted until they fulfill the various political, economic and social expectations, what more value-adding initiatives can a nation implement? Innovation would be the next step.
To suppress innovation would mean to drop off the bandwagon, losing out to other modern national communities who would continually invest and fuel their own innovation sector.
Along this train of thought it merges the issue of sustainability. Sustainability is the product of sustainable development. It is not a fixed state of harmony, but rather a process of change in which the exploitation of resources, the direction of investments, the orientation of technological development, and institutional change are made consistent with future needs as well as present needs.
This reflection posits that sustainability and innovation are inseparable. In fact, sustainable innovations are being increasingly recognized as an important consideration, which focuses on balancing the needs for improved goods and services with the concurrent impact on natural resources.
This reflection also believes that the path toward sustainable development asks for a need-driven multi-stakeholder innovation approach. Thus one has to re-invent innovation.
In today’s world where new is often equated to being better, a huge misconception arises when companies believe that their pursuit for sustainability, would add to their costs, deliver no immediate financial benefits, and quite possibly erode their competitiveness.
On the contrary the quest for sustainability could unearth a mother lode of organizational and technological innovations that yield both top-line and bottom-line returns.
Sustainability is the constant fine-tuning and sprucing-up of an innovation, making it evergreen. It is a quest has already begun to transform the competitive landscape, as companies redesign products, technologies, processes, and business models.
By equating sustainability with innovation today, enterprises can lay the groundwork that will put them in the lead when the recession ends.
Article by Anders Bjärs and Errol Lim, Googol AB.
För mer information:
Innovation Pioneers International
Partners of IIA 2011: Swedavia, Microsoft, Logica, Vinnova, Maxibit, Bergenstråhle & Lindvall, SISP and Baker & McKinzie.
The initiating companies of Innovation Pioneers:
Astra Zeneca, Alfa Laval, Electrolux, Volvo IT, Atria,The Absolut Company (Pernod Ricard), Ergonomidesign, Ericsson, Googol, Hjälpmedelsinstitutet, IKEA, Innventia, SCA, Stora Enso, Tetra Pak and Uponor.